Can I ask you a question?
How much time do you think you spend on email each week?
If you’re like most dog trainers (or, really, like most small business owners) the answer is likely “too much.”
In 2012, McKinsey reported that the average professional spent roughly 28% of their day — or 2.6 hours — dealing with email. In 2017, Siemens shared that on average, we check email 15 times a day. And you can bet those numbers have gone up, not down, in the years since.
And yet, if I was to ask you about the most important things you need to do for your business, email probably wouldn’t even make the list. (Though if I was to ask about your least favorite things you do for your business… it might make THAT list.)
Fortunately, there are some tricks you can use to get though your email faster, so you can get back to things that matter more. This is the first post in a series where I’ll help you get the most out of Gsuite, and the tools Google has to offer.
Why Should Dog Trainers Use Gmail?
While free email accounts are easy to set up, and having an email address for free is understandably attractive, free accounts lack the professionalism of a custom email address. If you’re running a business and have a website, you should really have an email address that matches your website.
So if your website is awesomedogtrainer.com, then your email address should be firstname.lastname@example.org.
Typically, your website hosting company will offer you a branded email address as part of their services. But I typically recommend going one step further and signing up for a Gsuite account, instead. Gsuite is a package from Google that includes Gmail for Business, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Calendar and more.
If you’ve used a free Gmail account in the past, Gmail for Business takes all the features that make Gmail awesome and makes them available (plus some upgrades) with a branded email address.
For almost all dog trainers, a “Basic” Gsuite account will more than meet your needs. A Basic account runs $6/user/month.
Many of the features I’ll be talking about today are also included in a free Gmail account — but if you’re running a dog training business, I highly recommend upgrading to the more professional option.
Save Time with Gmail Templates
As Jamie likes to say, if you have to type something out more than once or twice, you should turn it into a template. Well, Gmail has a template feature. It allows you to save chunks of text you tend to use frequently in emails, and then insert those paragraphs (or even full emails) when replying, instead of making you start from scratch.
For example, what is your process when someone emails you to say they’re interested in your services? If you typically reply to them with information about upcoming classes or with information on how to schedule a sales call, create a template! Then, the next time someone emails you, you can simply drop the template in instead of writing that email from scratch. You might also use templates for your follow up emails after private lessons, for sending out homework handouts to your classes, or with information on how to pay you that you send out after a sales call.
How to turn on Templates in Gmail
Before you can use templates, you need to turn them on.
How to Use Templates in Gmail
Save it for Later with Snooze
Another awesome feature that Gmail offers is a “Snooze button” for your email.
When you select an email and then click on the Snooze button, Gmail will ask you how long you want to snooze the email for. Then, it takes the email out of your inbox until the day and time you’ve selected.
For example, if you have clients fill out intake questionnaires, you can scan their information when it comes in and then snooze the email until the morning of your first appointment with them (or the morning that you’re doing a sales call, depending on how you handle new clients). This way, the information is there when you need it… But you can get it out of your inbox in the meantime.
This feature is especially useful if you tend to use time blocking — if you do accounting on Fridays and get an email that includes financial info, you can snooze it ’til Friday. If you tend to handle client emails each morning and get a request from a client to schedule a follow up lesson, you can snooze it until the following morning so you can take care of it when you’re at the computer.
Send It Later with Scheduled Email Send Times
While Snooze lets you control when something should reappear in YOUR inbox, send it later allows you to schedule emails that will be sent to your clients at a later date. This can be helpful if you tend to send out remind emails before a first lesson or reminder emails the day before an appointment. Instead of having to set up and send an email the day you want it to go out, you can set it up when the client books the appointment or batch set up emails once a week, instead.
Send it Later emails are saved in a special “scheduled” folder, too — so if a client cancels or you need to edit an email, Gmail makes that easy to do.
Eliminate “Ah Shoot” Moments with Undo Send
Ever hit send and immediately realize you forgot to include an attachment or a link? Always catch that terrible typo two seconds after hitting the “send” button?
Undo Send is an optional feature in Gmail that allows you a few extra seconds to cancel an outgoing email. Gmail lets you set the amount of time you want in your settings, and then after hitting send you’ll see a message pop up across the bottom of your screen with the option to “Undo.” If you click it, the email becomes a draft and opens so you can edit it before clicking send again.
Other Options to Customize Your Gmail Email Account
While I’ve included some of my favorite tips and tricks above, I also recommend just spending some time going through your Gmail settings one by one. Play around to see which settings you like best and what makes the most sense for you. Gmail is highly customizable.
For example, you can choose to have all your email in one inbox, or to use the Tabs feature, where you have a tab for Primary email, and the others for promotions, social, updates, and forums. You can choose to auto advance your emails — so as you finish, Gmail automatically opens the next email for you — or to return to your inbox after each email. And that barely scratches the surface of what it can do.
I put together one final video with a few additional tools I like to use and features that I think aren’t always well known in Gmail.
What Gmail features is most useful for you? Do you have a branded email address? Why or why not? Leave a comment — I read all of them, and do my best to respond!